How to beat an aggressive player
There are not enough words to describe how I felt the first time I came up against an aggressive player. I was shocked, annoyed, frustrated, ashamed, mad, and in denial. Needless to say I lost big. Unfortunately for me, this bully became a regular where I played. Over time, I stopped being so afraid of the bully and I started to pay attention. I soon learned how to beat down the bully.
First of all, just as with any bully, don’t be afraid. If you are, don’t show it. The aggressive player is counting on your frustration and fear. They use it against you. It is part of their strategy but you don’t have to play into it. Just as you can’t fear the bully, you also cannot let him suck you in. It is human nature to want to beat him at his own game but that may only make things worse for you. The bully is counting on you raising the stakes in an effort to beat him. The more you bet, the more you can lose and he can win. Don’t raise or stay in the game unless you know you have a good hand.
Determine if the bully is an intelligent player or just an idiot. Some players will use the bully as part of their game plan. These are the ones you really have to watch out for. They will steal you blind. The idiot bully is just an annoyance. Know his game and you will be fine.
Try to always sit to the left of the bully. I found this out by accident. When I sit left of the bully I can play my hand first. That way I don’t get sucked into his game. I know it is hard, but try to concentrate on making your hand and not on what the bully is doing. Don’t get trapped in his mind game. He is counting on you losing your concentration and making bad calls.
Remember that even an idiot aggressive player may occasionally have a good hand. In other words, he may not always be bluffing. Study the bully to learn his body language. Try your best to determine when he is bluffing and when he really does have a good hand.
Don’t lose track of the other players. You are not just playing against the aggressive player. There are other players in the game that want to win just as badly as you do. Don’t go down to his level. It is understandable that you are angry but if you resort to name calling things can only go from bad to worse. I have seen fights break out because a player called out a bully. Just be aware of him and watch your back. Remember that you can always fold.
I soon learned how to beat my bully at his own game. It wasn’t long before he was choosing to not sit at the same table as me.